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Galumpha's Tory Daral, top, Emiko Okamoto and Andy Horowitz '89, right, rehearse at Studio B in the Fine Arts Building.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Galumpha’s latest feat: Expanding to 2 groups
December 8, 2011Tweet
Galumpha is now offering twice the fun, as the dance troupe has formed two active performance ensembles.
Kate Parlato, William Matos ’10 and Vivake Khamsingsavath ’10 are performing the group’s blend of dance, acrobatics and physical comedy nightly at the prestigious Salto Natale in Zurich, Switzerland, while Andy Horowitz ’89, Greg O’Brien ’86 and current Binghamton University student Emiko Okamoto are rehearsing on campus for two First Night performances in Haddonfield, N.J.
An offer of 80 performances over two months at a “wintercircus” featuring dozens of acts spurred the expansion, said Horowitz, Galumpha president/director/co-founder and Theatre Department artist-in-residence.
“We have a busy schedule and it would’ve been almost impossible for a presenter to offer a two-month run that wouldn’t conflict with something,” he said. “Eighty shows: You can’t turn that down. It’s money, prestige and the sheer splendor of performing in a production of this stature.”
Horowitz accepted the Salto Natale invitation for November and December, even though Galumpha was already committed to the First Night gig in the Philadelphia suburb. Horowitz said he called a staff meeting at his summer dance camp at the Jewish Community Center and announced: “I’m going to need to two ensembles.”
The formation of the two ensembles received a boost when Galumpha co-founder and former performer O’Brien agreed to join one of the trios. O’Brien, who was helping at the camp, now teaches in New Hampshire.
“I did not want there to be A and B companies,” Horowitz said. “I didn’t want Haddonfield to think ‘Oh, we’re getting the Galumpha 2. And I didn’t want Salto Natale to think that, either. My thinking was that I would send two of the main trio’s dancers to Switzerland. And I knew Greg and I would stay back. So I needed two more dancers – one to go to Switzerland and one girl to stay here, rehearse and round out the trio.”
Khamsingsavath, who worked at the Galumpha summer camp, was a “no-brainer” for the third spot in Switzerland, Horowitz said. The Salto Natale trio and Horowitz traveled to Zurich in early November for what Horowitz called “a massive spectacle.” The show, produced by Rolf Knie and Cirque du Soleil, includes acts such as members of Russia’s Bolshoi Circus, Chinese acrobats and dancers from the Netherlands. It is set up in four big-top tents that feature extravagant bars and restaurants and a 1,250-seat auditorium.
“You walk in and you could forget that you are in tents at all,” Horowitz said. “They’re heated. The lighting is immaculate. There is flooring down. There are sculptures and paintings.”
And for the first time in his career, Horowitz was touring with Galumpha and not performing.
“It was a wonderful perspective to sit back with Rolf Knie and watch the show come together,” said Horowitz, who attended the rehearsals before returning to the United States in mid-November.
Back on the home front, Horowitz found his third member in Okamoto, who he calls “a stunning dancer.”
“She has a gorgeous, lyrical graceful way of moving,” he said of Okamoto, adding that her strength contributes to the seemingly effortless shifting of lifts among the trio.
Okamoto and Horowitz worked on choreography before O’Brien arrived during Thanksgiving break. The trio rehearsed before, after and on the holiday and will resume as a trio when O’Brien returns around Christmas.
In the meantime, Horowitz and Okamoto have been able to practice as a trio with help from dancer Tory Daral.
“Out of the goodness of her heart and a love of dance, Tory has been sweating it out in rehearsals and being that third body,” Horowitz said. “I just love her for it.”
Horowitz is also able to monitor the progress of Galumpha’s Salto Natale team through Facebook. He and the members communicate and share photos.
“They are consummate professionals and wonderful performers,” he said of Parlato, Matos and Khamsingsavath. “The first thing I thought of was morale – the idea that they are in Switzerland through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I become concerned that it can take a toll on them emotionally. That’s where Facebook is great.”
Horowitz is planning to keep two troupes after the Salto Natale run ends Jan. 2. Galumpha has 2012 performances scheduled for all across the United States, from the Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Maine to Cal Poly Arts in California. The troupe’s next regional performance is Feb. 19, at the State Theatre in Ithaca.
“Having two companies available allows me to book more conflicting gigs,” he said. “… I would love to keep six people on the payroll and keep two companies going. But the only way I’ll be able to do that is to get out there and book, book, book and have runs in Europe and Asia while maintaining a vigorous schedule in the states.”
Choreographing for five or six and putting all of the Galumpha members onstage for a show is another aspect that intrigues Horowitz.
“I’m not only excited about the economic potential of having two groups, but also the idea that we need not only be a trio,” he said. “Sometimes we can put the two groups together and have a body of material with greater complexity and more people onstage. That’s very exciting to me.”